26 Langford Wildlife

Besides couples encroaching onto the  Company’s grounds for amorous purposes, the Langford site was a haven for a wide range of wildlife, with a belt of trees on one side, and a field leading to the river Chelmer on the other. From the occasional deer to the smallest voles, and herons to wrens.  The usual animals such as badgers and foxes lived on site, and these were usually seen after dark and often by the shift attendants on CC TV. 

Following the formation of the Essex Water Company the immaculate grounds were allowed to deteriorate, as not being regularly inspected by Peter Francis, the General Manager of the Southend Waterworks Co, who was a stickler for pristine buildings and grounds maintenance.  The rabbits gradually encroached into the flower beds with their burrows, and these were preyed upon by the stoats and foxes.  The badgers always found enough food to proliferate, but were less obvious.                                                       With regard to the birds, herons were common on the river but less common at the reservoir which was approx 20 ft deep when full and precluded wading. However this did not stop “Harry” who developed a method of flopping off the reservoir wall onto the water some 3 feet below and catching trout. This continued for quite some time until he flew into the power lines across the field and got fried. There was also a Sparrowhawk who nested at the top of the chemical silo building, and one of the fledglings was rescued  at the door to the laboratory.  When it was very foggy the odd kingfisher flew into the plate glass Laboratory windows usually breaking their necks. Also at times numerous cormorants visited the reservoirs to feast on the easily caught trout. They would then sit in a line on the pipe that traversed the reservoirs drying their wings. Small fish would be pumped into the reservoir with the river water and quickly grow, as they had a constant supply of food brought in. These ranged from roach to pike. At one time the fisheries department at Hanningfield, where they had a trout hatchery put a few thousand trout in the Langford reservoirs to fatten up. However when they came to net them, they required the reservoir level to be dropped from 20 ft to  5 ft,. As this would have seriously depleted the volume  required in the event of  a river pollution, this was denied.  As a result workers were allowed to fish for them. I took orders from local restaurants such as the Blue Boar in Maldon, and would catch their orders after work.